Posted on January 23, 2020

Beating 250 schools around the world, Qatar Academy for Science and Technology won the Teaching and Learning Initiative prize at the International Schools Award 2020 in London, for its unprecedented approach in education. The school was selected as one of the top 35 finalists, and is the only school in Qatar to have been nominated for this prestigious award.

The competition had 10 categories of which the Teaching and Learning Category had the maximum number of applicants and finalists. Qatar Academy for Science and Technology (QAST), part of Qatar Foundation's Pre-University Education, was honored as a result of its approach to addressing Qatar’s Grand Challenges, through its unique and highly effective curriculum structure titled CRISP, which stands for Collaborate, Research, Innovate, Synthesize and Present. 

QF school honored as one 2 [qatarisbooming.com].jpgThe innovative high-school that focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) was established in 2018 by Qatar Foundation to offer a unique education that equips students with the qualifications and the experiences they need to access some of the world’s leading universities while finding solutions to current global challenges. “I am delighted that our approach to empowering our students with the knowledge and skills they need to find solutions to the challenges we all face has been recognized so soon in our development,” Dr. Gregory Moncada, Director at QAST, said. “QAST has been created to meet the needs of passionate students, and those of Qatar. We are dedicated to building on this success and to give our passionate students the best possible opportunities.”

The team at QAST has developed a unique approach, which uses real world challenges within the context of their studies. Students are given challenges which they solve in teams over a six to eight-week period before presenting their solutions to key stakeholders. This enables students to begin using their academic knowledge and practical skills to solve real problems for a real audience from day one at the school. “It is high praise indeed to have gained this level of recognition for our unique approach to truly embed real-life skills within a rigorous academic program,” Vaughan Lewis, Curriculum Coordinator, said. “We have built a curriculum that gives new meaning to project-based learning and we look forward to sharing our model with the wider community.”

As the only Qatar Foundation school to offer both A level and AP qualifications, QAST sits in a unique position within the QF community. It is able to provide a viable alternative to the International Baccalaureate, which Principal Sam Abrams believes embraces the best of both IB and A levels. Mr. Abrams explains, “The QAST program opens doors, it prepares students for any career or university of their choosing because they leave us with not only evidence of their academic ability but a CV of how they’ve applied their knowledge to solve real problems for real businesses. This learning style is unprecedented, and it works.”

The team behind QAST includes passionate educationalists, parents and innovators. Their unique model is based on many years’ research into how young people learn and have applied that to a practical approach to prepare students for the future they are going into. Working alongside neighbors at QF, including leading universities such as Texas A&M University at Qatar and Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, the school has more than just a building; it has an innovative and progressive network of support, facilities and knowledge.

QF school honored as one 3 [qatarisbooming.com].jpg

A key element to the model is the use of mastery grading; this is a method of assessment designed to empower students to master their skills in order to apply their knowledge, rather than simply regurgitate detail for an exam. The QAST model also removes the need for iGCSEs, which are regularly under scrutiny as to their value for students who are intent on progressing to university as universities don’t recognize them. Rather, students from ages 14 to 16 work on what they call CRISP themes, which are tailored projects designed to solve a specific grand challenge Qatar and the world is facing right now, such as water security, food security, cyber security. In their final two years, these students work on intensive internships with businesses and therefore gain not only the academic knowledge they need for success in their pre-university A level and AP exams, but real-world experience.

As Dr. Moncada adds, “Our aim as educators is to future-proof the next generation for whatever career path they choose. Qatar Foundation has empowered us to do things differently, and we are grateful for that faith and investment in QAST as a vehicle to drive exciting changes in this sector.”

QAST is holding their first STEM Activity Afternoon on March 3 in an event that is open to the public. More details can be found here: www.qast.qa

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